There’s a phrase that, as my old Sports Studies tutor liked to regularly point out, is used both widely and incorrectly.
Practice does not in fact make perfect, it makes permanent.
Sure there is something in a misattribution of a quote to Einstein about making the same mistakes, but I can think of plenty of people I played football, cricket or bowls with who regularly and without cause to correct themselves, practiced the same poorly timed shot or running bowl over and over again.
The crazy fools.
What makes perfect is days of creating the same dish, but through the thoughts and words of a variety of different people. To adapt, to take influence from and to hone that dish so that the hours or years of effort spent by others, can be packaged neatly in to a weekly newspaper column. Not to mention the output of an Instagram feed and, if lucky, the bowl of the best fed dog in North London.
Where yesterday I mentioned many of the authors I admire amongst the cookbooks we have out on display, today’s food – what’s the word – saviour, is Felicity Cloake.
No matter what you fancy for dinner tonight, you can almost be certain that Felicity Cloake has cooked it as part of her long running Guardian column ‘How to cook the perfect…’.
Sometimes her column tips the balance of what we will eat that day, other times it will simply come to the rescue when I am stood in the supermarket and lacking in ideas. Just type Perfect followed by the name of a dish – toad in the hole, macaroni cheese, shepherd’s pie – in to your search engine of choice and a link to the Guardian will be somewhere in the top two or three returns.
You can buy her books: a series of Perfectly titled offerings, an A-Z of Eating and, next year, a book on her travels eating one more croissant for the road in France. Some I already have, the latter one I am looking forward to, if only to understand the scoring system applied to my breakfast weapon of choice.
So if you are at a loss, bored of using the same cookbooks or simply looking for inspiration for your next dish – let a week of experimentation in a North London kitchen take you somewhere perfect.
The column is printed in Saturday’s Guardian and is then available online later the following week.
The image is of a mocked up cover. Here’s hoping for a more realistic image of punctured tires, hilly climbs and an 8/10 on the croissant scale